Battleaxe – Heavy Metal Sanctuary (SPV)Sunday, 2nd March 2014
The story with Battlexe goes like this: Part of the NWOBHM scene, the band was scooped up by the fledgling Music for Nations label, who released the band’s first two albums, 1983’s Burn this Town, and ‘84’s Power from the Universe. The Brits were eventually slotted as openers for Saxon and a proposed third album, Mean Machine, was in the works, but never came to fruition. The band split in ’87, reformed in 2010, rallied the troops and scored a deal with SPV for the release of Heavy Metal Sanctuary, which unfortunately, sounds like it’s stuck in a time vacuum. And not a good one.
Rather purposely slotted in the pedestrian/basic field that only seems to benefit when Accept or Dio are afoot, Battleaxe’s sound barely crawls past the 1985 threshold. Like, you’re not going to hear an idea here that made it to the 90’s, which for better or worse, prevents the album from having any kind of impact. And sorts of tired, overused ideas are going, like on the title track, which is a failed “call to arms” attempt that sounds like Saxon, just without the muscle. “Rebel With a Cause” has some teeth, if only for its Restless and Wild stylings; “A Prelude to Battle/The Legions Unite” doesn’t even try to mask the band its ripping off (read: they’re the band responsible for Restless and Wild), while some fake crowd noise is pumped in for “Devil Calls,” a head-scratcher of a move.
Essentially the sum of the bands that went onto more success, Battleaxe don’t leave a favorable impression with Heavy Metal Sanctuary. It’s not like we’re against a tried-and-true, meat-and-potatoes metal album, but usually those forays have character; this is just a knock off all the way through.